(urth) Short Sun blog review

António Pedro Marques entonio at gmail.com
Wed Sep 22 06:54:06 PDT 2010

David Stockhoff wrote (22-09-2010 03:36):
> I guess disagree with the "cool" proposition in the first place. I also
> disagree with Moody in calling the "return" to the Urth-Sun universe
> "nostalgic." Why should Wolfe create a new universe every time he writes
>  a novel?
> What I find interesting about BotNS in the context of the Urth-Sun
> universe is that we see it all through Severian's telling. It's like
> peeping through a keyhole. But there is a whole universe out there that
> Severian does not know and that does not know Severian. Typhon is one of
>  those phenomena, except for a brief time.
> So what if there is no legend of the Whorl for Severian to report? It had
> no role in his story, and is merely an inconsequential and inevitable
> part of the backdrop. We know Typhon ruled worlds and wanted to rule
> more. We know there had to be colonists. The universe is vast.
> Trying to find concordances between LS/SS and NS is useful and fun if it
>  uncovers facts that are useful and fun, but NOT finding concordance is
> evidence of very little by itself. For me, it hardly needs to tie
> together at all, let alone brilliantly.

I agree with everything - and IMO much more 'tying' would make it all feel a
bit artificial. What next, turn the books into an annotated cross-referenced
timeline and ditch the narration altogether? The narration is part of the
work. We have Severian in 1st person, maybe a different Severian in 1st
person, a Horn about Silk in 3rd person, and a Horn who is also Silk in 1st
person. Not to mention all the storytellers. All these have their strengths
and limitations, *on purpose*.

I also don't think the intent of the books is for someone to uncover their
'secret'. They are full of materials amenable to decipering, but I don't
think they are 'clues' as people like to refer to it. I think they obviously
hint at more complex readings, but I don't think their reason to be is to
point to one grand solution, which IMO is an impoverished way to look at it.
They enable discussion, speculation and layering, and I think those
processes, *where enriching*, rather than any specific result, are what matters.

During tyhe Agia discussion I mentioned we all agreed everything Wolfe wrote
was extraordinary, and had Jerry protest. I never got the leisure to reply
to that message and will leave any ideas to the next time Agia appears, but
I'd like to clarify, and I'll make use of Google's dictionary to do so,

1. Very unusual or remarkable.
2. Unusually great.

that what I meant was the first sense. Of course my opinion of what I know
of Wolfe's work is quite high, but the bit I had intended to mean we'd all
agree on was that his writing is never ordinary - or, at least I've never
met any work of his that followed customary patterns. In all of it there is 
a naturalistic care with the meta-diegesis that I just don't find almost 
anywhere else, and nowhere with the same coherence. I think that's an 
objective assessment.

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